THUNDER BAY - The province has declared a state of emergency in an effort to contain the increasing number of cases of COVID-19 in Ontario.
Premier Doug Ford made the announcement early Tuesday morning and the declaration will see sweeping measures put into place across the province.
"We are facing an unprecedented time in our history," Ford said in a media release issued by the province. "This is a decision that was not made lightly. COVID-19 constitutes a danger of major proportions. We are taking this extraordinary measure because we must offer our full support and every power possible to help our health care sector fight the spread of COVID-19. The health and wellbeing of every Ontarian must be our number one priority."
The declaration will require establishments across the province to close, including indoor recreational programs, public libraries, private schools, licensed child care centres, all bars and restaurants, except to the extent that facilities provide takeout food and delivery, all theatres, and concert venues.
Gatherings of more than 50 people are also prohibited, including parades, events, and communal services at places of worship.
"We are acting on the best advice of our Chief Medical Officer of Health and other leading public health officials across the province," said Deluty Premier and Health Minister Christine Elliott.
"We know these measures will affect people's everyday lives, but they are necessary to ensure that we can slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect our people. We're working with all partners across the system, from public health to hospitals and community care, to do everything we can to contain this virus and ensure that the system is prepared to respond to any scenario."
The province is also investing up to $304 million to enhance the province’s response to COVID-19 by offering $100 million for increased capacity in hospitals, $50 for more testing and screening, $50 to protect frontline workers, $25 million to support frontline workers, $50 million for long-term care homes, $20 million for residential facilities, $5 million to protect seniors in retirement homes, and $4 million for Indigenous communities.
There are currently 177 cases of COVID-19 in Ontario and 424 in Canada.